Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis
It’s that time of year again – spring – or for 20 percent of the population, Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAC) season. Seasonal allergies cause red, itchy, watery, and burning eyes, all thanks to blooming trees, flowers, and weeds releasing pollen. Sufferers may have chronic dark circles under their eyes, their eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights may be bothersome. If the eyes are rubbed too much, it can lead to secondary infections requiring medical attention.
When the pollen comes out, allergy sufferers should close their windows, turn on their air conditioning in their homes and cars, and stay indoors for the mid-morning and early evening time periods, when pollen counts are at their highest. If they do go outdoors, sunglasses or eyeglasses are their best defense against blowing pollen.
Obviously, pollen is not completely unavoidable, requiring a trip to the pharmacy for supplies to help alleviate the symptoms. Artificial tears, decongestant eye drops, and oral antihistamines can help to get through the season (just be aware that antihistamines can have a drying effect on eyes).
Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis
While seasonal allergies tend to affect sufferers during the active growing months of plants (spring, summer, and fall), Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis (PAC), is a year-long affair. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, perennial allergies are typically caused by the indoor allergens of dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or other household/indoor irritants.
The symptoms will appear the same as for its seasonal allergy counterpart and is treated the same with over-the-counter remedies. Sufferers are strongly encouraged to keep their homes, offices, and cars (interior environments) clean and to regularly wash linens and other fabrics (i.e., rugs, draperies, curtains, upholstery) to eliminate dust mites, spores, and dander.
These two types of eye allergies are the most common, affecting 50-85 million Americans each year. If you find yourself being affected, wash your face, use a cold compress on your eyes, try the over-the-counter remedies, keep your environment clean, wipe surfaces with a damp cloth, and if all else fails, see your eye care professional for prescription medications.